Team Jefferson Starship reviewed this attraction on October 15, 2016.
Final Score: 8.62
The Dark Knight’s Terror Trail is a three-part Haunt outside of Elgin, not far from Columbia. Each of the three attractions at Dark Knight’s are individual and unique, but for the biggest ‘boo!’ for your buck, be sure to visit all three for a night full of entertainment.
The indoor haunt and outdoor trail are full of interactive frights and shocking humor. These two attractions are probably worth a PG-13 or an R rating – the humor is adult-oriented and probably not best for young children. The zombie-shoot is more kid-friendly, but also requires a bit of athleticism… if you’re going to survive.
Each of the attractions has two or more signature characters that serve as guides on your journeys. Paul Bearer, Rigg Mortis, Sy Ko, Mort, Hunter and others are delightfully creepy and always entertaining. Dirty jokes, foul puns, and creepy demeanors are the order of the night. The other figures that you’ll meet along the way are pretty interactive, either with your fellow visitors or with the guides, but it is always your guides who drive the fun.
As a note: the zombies who swarm you in the different areas of the zombie hunt are quite often volunteers from local organizations. These organizations get a donation from a portion of the ticket sales for the zombie event. It’s a great way to give back to the community, but it does mean that your zombie interaction may vary widely from visit to visit.
Overall the costuming was very well done throughout the haunts. Characters are usually identifiable and nothing is out of place. Make-up effects are not as well done as the costumes, but there are some things that jump out at you. Some of the monsters along the trail are very well done – but don’t hang around too long or you might wind up staying with several of them.
Customer Service: 8.62
There aren’t a lot of signs pointing you to the Dark Knight’s Terror Trail, but when you pull up outside, you’ll clearly recognize that you have arrived. Be forewarned and wear comfortable shoes for a night of walking – inside there are metal grates, outside you’ll be walking through the woods and, when you’re hunting zombies, it’s always best to be prepared. Be sure to watch your step! Moving from concrete to gravel or trying to evade a zombie in the woods can easily lead to a stumble.
There are lots of staff in clearly-marked t-shirts who will guide you from place to place once you’ve entered the grounds. After you’re inside, there aren’t really queue lines. You head to whichever attraction you wish to try next (based on what you’ve paid for). There are also two short (5-minute) escape rooms in the large, outdoor waiting area. Actors like Paul and Rigg wander through to entertain you with some whip-cracking banter from time to time. You can easily spend an extra hour just hanging out and talking to visitors and staff alike… or even hear a ghost story from grandma by the ever-burning fire pit!
The Dark Knight’s Terror Trail is clearly some kind of attraction. The outside has been painted and decorated to look like a storybook castle with wooden doors and parapets. There’s no music outside, but the occasional, distant scream or roar of a chainsaw. There’s nothing that immediately screams ‘haunted house.’
However, there are nice touches once you’re within the site. The fire pit in the outdoor waiting area is a nice place to lurk near the woods. Likewise, just inside the building (before the entrance to the indoor haunt) is a waiting area with seats and a horror movie playing in the dark.
Special Effects: 9.24
Details really shine (and glisten and drip and scurry) across the Terror Trail. There are numerous custom-, hand- and home-made props scattered across the site. You’ll be reaching into some of these, perhaps tasting others, and the effects will linger with you while you summon up things like Bloody Mary or Slenderman.
The hanged victims on the trail, the transmogrifier, creepy TVs, and even shrunken heads await your viewing pleasure while you dodge all manner of creepy things.
There’s not an overall theme for the entire site other than entertainment. Looking at each piece individually, the Zombie Hunt pretty much captures two different styles of zombie horror that you can immerse yourself in: an outdoor hunt of walking dead and an indoor survival scavenger hunt while sneaky fast zombies track you down.
The outdoor walking trail hits a variety of outdoor spooky things that you might find slightly twisted with evil; from things over the rainbow to a rainbow-painted circus tent and your biggest fears, be ready to scream and jog ahead of the other victims as you try to escape.
The indoor haunt is perhaps the jewel of the site. There’s an elaborate story for the location, but the story doesn’t last too long into the haunt as you soon get to experience a variety of haunted scenes from movies, media, and who knows what else.
Fright Effect: 8.61
As previously stated, Dark Knight’s Terror Trail isn’t where you go to get the scare of your life. There are scares to be found here, but there’s also a lot of laughter and entertainment. Rigg even managed to get a shriek out of one of our Team members with a well-timed and well-placed “Boo!”; Rigg then had to chide her for screaming over a “boo…” claiming that it’s the weakest scare in the books.
Small groups help; be willing to split your group up if there are a lot of you venturing out. Some of the fun effects on the inside haunt are definitely aimed at one person at a time, but the rest of the group can cringe and be aghast as the chosen victim (usually a different person for each experience) is dragged forward and made to be a part of the haunt. It’s all about immersion; let yourself go and be a part of the experience at the Terror Trail.
There is a lot of entertainment at the Dark Knight’s Terror Trail. You can spend $11 per haunt if you want to do them individually (or $5 per person for the 5-minute escape rooms) or, for $30, you can do all three. The indoor haunt is the fastest with a brisk 15 minutes to experience, the zombie hunt takes around 20 minutes to finish and the outdoor walking trail lasts 25 minutes. If you do all three, you’re getting a full hour of fun for only $30 – that’s two minutes of terror per dollar!